This week's Omer Study Packet on hunger and poverty highlights teachings from the 2006 JRF Omer Study and from our partners at Mazon: A Jewish Repsonse to Hunger and the Jewish Council on Public Affairs (JCPA).
This January the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) and United Jewish Communities (UJC) announced a partnership on JEWISH POVERTY month.
Hillel taught "Do not separate yourself from the community." – Pirkei Avot 2:5
"It’s a shonda in our community to be poor . . . people don’t want to self-identify." – Joan Strauss, Director of Programs and Training for the Association of Jewish Family and Children’s Agencies
As part of JCPA’s national anti-poverty campaign, “There shall be no needy among you,” the JCPA is partnering with United Jewish Communities (UJC) to provide the information and resources to fulfill this call. Read on to find information on advocacy opportunities, a toolkit of suggested activities and other resources to help you strengthen the connection between direct service and advocacy and enhance and coordinate your anti-poverty activism with other communities across the country. read more »
Below is a growing list of programmatic resources to aid congregations in their pursuit of Tikkun Olam, organized by issue, and type of resource.
The initial issues included are:
These represent the most common issues being addressed by Congregation Based Community Organizing (CBCO) groups throughout the country.
JRF, a member of the Jewish Council of Public Affairs and an affiliate member of MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, joins in supporting the JCPA's 2007-8 National Anti-Poverty Campaign.
There shall be no needy among you. (Deuteronomy 15:4)
The JCPA proposes the launching of a national anti-poverty campaign to: read more »
On June 11, at 6:30 P.M. thousands of people of all faiths and backgrounds will gather at the Washington National Cathedral for the second Interfaith Convocation on hunger. We will raise our voices as one and work together to end hunger throughout the United States and the world.
A pre-Convocation gathering of the Jewish community is happening at 5:00 P.M. at Temple Michah, 2829 Wisconsin Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20007. read more »
Let’s communicate that we care as Reconstructionists by attending in large numbers. JRF's Rabbi Shawn Zevit will be leading the Reconstructionist delegation.
There are many JRF initiatives or letters of support in which we are continually asked to participate. In all of these cases, JRF is invited to join other interfaith or Jewish denominational coalitions in national and international social justice areas or letters/programs about forthcoming legislation or policy in keeping with our already existing resolutions. Examples can be found in the 2008 Omer Learning Initiative on External Partnerships.
The role of the Director of Tikkun Olam in external affiliations is: (a) to represent JRF and JRF member communities in social justice events as they arise and maintain committed and develop new relationships with organizations, coalitions and initiatives outside the Reconstructionist movement; (b) to delegate responsibility for specific relationships to other appropriate parties and to insure that adequate documentation and representation in all relationships is maintained; and (c) to establish and manage a process for responding to requests for collaboration from outside our movement and from member communities within (this includes a 24-hour turn-around sub committee in matters of sign-on's and crises response). These duties are executed in conjunction with the Executive Vice-President, the External Affiliations Committees of the Board, with other JRF staff, and in coordination with the RRC and the RRA as appropriate. Resolutions are proposed from either working committees of the JRF board, movement-wide commissions, or member communities that submit them for consideration at JRF bi-ennial conventions.
Some of our most active partners include the Religious Action Center, the American Jewish World Service, the Jewish Coalition on Public Affairs, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the Jewish Coalition on Disaster Relief (The Reconstructionist Movement is a member of the Executive Council of the JCDR), the Jewish Funds for Justice, the National Jewish Social Justice Roundtable and the Green Hevre and many interfaith and non-profit social justice coalitions.
The committee and staff reviews and identifies organizations both Jewish and general, whose goals and objectives make them appropriate for JRF membership and/or affiliation. The committee will make specific recommendations to the Executive Committee and board and will coordinate, (with the JRF staff representative), JRF representation within these organizations.
Val Kaplan (Chair), Rabbi Shawn Zevit (Director of External Affiliations and Tikkun Olam), Roni Berkowitz, Dan Cedarbaum, Bob Barkin (JRF President), Eric Caplan, Vicki Presser, Carl Sheingold (EVP). Randi Brenowitz (Keddem Cong.) Contact: Shawn Zevit, Director of External Affiliations.
The Jewish Council for Public Affairs serves as the representative voice of the organized American Jewish community in addressing the mandate of the Jewish community relations field. The mandate is expressed in two, interrelated goals:
These goals are pursued in a non-partisan manner informed by Jewish values. History teaches us that Jewish security is inexorably linked to the strength of democratic institutions. Thus, our community has a direct stake - along with an ethical imperative—in assuring that America remains a country wedded to the Bill of Rights and committed to the rule of law, whose institutions continue to function as a public trust.
The JCPA reflects a unique and inclusive partnership of national member agencies, local community relations councils and committees, and the federations of which they are a component part or affiliated agency. It convenes the "common table" around which member agencies, through an open, representative, inclusive and consensus-driven process, meet to identify issues, articulate positions, and develop strategies, programs, and approaches designed to advance the public affairs goals and objectives of the organized Jewish community.
National Christian, Jewish and other religious organizations work through the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice to ensure reproductive choice through the moral power of religious communities. It seeks to give clear voice to the reproductive issues of people of color, those living in the poverty, and other under-served populations.
Supporting community based organizations by providing resources on safety.
Established in 1988,The Shefa Fund has capitalized more than $12 million in Jewish institutional investments in community development banks, credit unions and loan funds which provide credit for housing and business development in credit-starved neighborhoods. JRF supports the Shefa Tzedek/"Justice" Economic Development Campaign (or "TZEDEC") that has leveraged investments from Jewish federations, synagogues, synagogue movements and foundations. TZEDEC is working with Reconstructionist congregations to realize their tikkun olam vision of increasing economic justice in America's low-income communities. The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association have already invested in TZEDEC.
The Jewish Reconstructionist Federation is a member of the Save Darfur Coalition, which is working towards stopping the atrocities and impoverishment in the Darfur region of Sudan. As a member of the coalition (supported by AJWS and JCPA), JRF is encouraging our member congregations to show strong participation in this effort, through tzedakah relief efforts and organizing nationally and regionally to aid in this effort.
NCBI has chapters in 60 cities where diverse leaders in the community work together in coalition to lead prejudice reduction, inter-group conflict resolution, and coalition building programs. JRF member congregations could become involved with NCBI in their local communities or have local NCBI leaders come and lead programs in their congregations.
Founded in 1985, MAZON (food in Hebrew) is a national, nonprofit agency which provides food, help, and hope to hungry people of all faiths and backgrounds. It allocates donations from the Jewish community to the most effective hunger relief organizations in the United States, Israel and in poor countries worldwide. As MAZON 'partners', congregations raise funds for hunger-relief during the High Holy Days and other times. Many Jews also give to MAZON three percent of the cost of weddings, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, and other joyous events.
The National Council of Synagogues is a partnership of the Reconstructionist, Reform and Conservative movements dealing with interfaith matters on a national level. Its constituent members are: The Jewish Reconstructionist Federation, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, The Union for Reform Judaism, The Central Conference of American Rabbis, The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and the Rabbinical Assembly. The Board of Directors consists of delegates from each of the constituents and meets six times yearly.
The NCS represents the religious Jewish community in semi-annual consultations with the Bishops Committee on Ecumenical and Interfaith Affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Presbyterian Church, and a variety of other interfaith initiatives and councils.
National Council of Synagogues, Rabbi Gil Rosenthal, Executive Director.
INMEX offers groups a way to avoid labor disputes at their meetings and conventions. Since INMEX will be working closely with UNITE HERE, all INMEX members will have access to up-to-the minute information regarding contract negotiations, new organizing efforts and labor disputes at hotels.
The Informed Meetings Exchange (INMEX) was to research, analyze and disseminate information about the global hotel industry. It enables member organizations to make informed decisions about how and where their meeting and convention dollars are spent. Each INMEX member organization wants to maximize the quality of their events and the impact their meeting and convention dollars have on hotel workers' lives and the communities they live in.
The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life was founded in 1993 to promote environmental education, scholarship, advocacy, and action in the American Jewish community. COEJL is sponsored by a broad coalition of national Jewish organizations.
On the anniversary of the 2005 Anti-Hunger convocation, JRF was asked through Mazon and Second Harvest to represent the Jewish tradition and community's teachings on responding to hunger and poverty at a national symposium day on ending hunger in Washington, D.C., June 5th, 2006. Learn more about the symposium...
On June 6, 2005, the first ever Interfaith Convocation on Hunger assembled one of the largest gatherings of anti-hunger and anti-poverty activists in the nation's capital in decades. The Jewish Reconstructionist Federation was pleased to be represented at and endorsed this event and invited all people of faith to call for an end to hunger.
By Rabbi Brant Rosen
Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation, Evanston, IL
Bless what forces us to invent
goodness every morning and what never frees
us from the cost of knowledge, which is
to act on what we know again and again. Marge Piercy
As the 2006 Hurricane Season commences, many of us still recall the indelible images from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina last fall. But in addition to the tragic ruin of Katrina, it is impossible to ignore the remarkable mobilization of American citizens that ensued. In the wake of this terrible disaster, so many of us created a real and palpable communal bond with people who lived far away from our own neighborhoods—in most cases with people whom most of us did not know personally. It was truly a time in which we saw first-hand how citizens and communities can work together in the spirit of compassion and caring. read more »
In 2006, the focus of JRF's Interactive Omer Study, was Tikkun Olam (repair of our world), specifically on the issues of hunger and poverty.
Visit the site to see the teachings and study texts from rabbis, hazzanim (cantors), educators, rabbinical students and members of JRF congregations, all accessible from its left side-bar menu.
By Rabbi Fred Dobb
Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation, Bethesda, Maryland